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Hal-Con’s comic relief

Hal-Con’s annual sci-fi, fantasy and comic extravaganza brings in big names, local faves and games ahoy.


Brenda Hickey ponies up at Hal-Con.
  • Brenda Hickey ponies up at Hal-Con.

For a comic book artist, the best compliment is when fans recognize them at comic book conventions. Brenda Hickey recognized one of her heroes Steven Blum at this year's San Diego Comic-Con International, the Mecca of comic book conventions. Blum is the voice for Amon, a character in the popular Avatar: The Last Airbender series. When she introduced herself, she didn't get the response she expected.

"I told him I work for My Little Pony and he got so excited," says Hickey. "He said my work was much bigger than anything he worked on. He asked me, 'Can I get a picture of you?' and I'm freaking out because I loved his work in high school. Later, I drew him a My Little Pony version of himself and he loved it."

These are the moments that make nerds and geeks flock to conventions. Hal-Con Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Comic Book Convention will be held at the World Trade Convention Centre from November 8 to 10.

Plenty of big-name celebrities will be coming to the annual geek extravaganza. Billy Dee Williams will make his first Hal-Con appearance along with Doctor Who's Peter Davidson and Firefly/Serenity star Jewel Staite. New Brunswick native Robert Maillet from 300 and the upcoming Hercules movie will make his third appearance. Fans will have the opportunity to meet their comic book heroes in panels and autograph signings.

Hickey will be one of the many women featured at the convention. Originally from Charlottetown, she convinced her husband Troy Little, who recently completed the Powerpuff Girls miniseries for IDW Publishing, to pass on her portfolio to the company. After a few weeks of discussions, IDW published Hickey's first My Little Pony issue this summer and began travelling to the large conventions in North America. The year will end with a bang---Hickey and Little will be expecting their first child in December. "Being a part of My Little Pony is a fun and great challenge," she says. "I've had a positive response from the fans. People know you so it's easier to promote my work and I have more people to chat with at conventions."

Any discussion about My Little Pony has to include the bronies---the passionate, growing fan base of young men. Their dedication to the show has led to animated films aimed especially for the group and brony conventions. Critics are baffled but Hickey says good writing is what draws men in. "I understand why men would like this comic.They're written in a smart way with really interesting and quirky characters. It's cool to see stories about friendship and harmony."

Big-name comics will not be the only comics promoted at Hal-Con. A mix of local and emerging artists from across Canada will showcase their latest work. Peter Chiykowski will return to promote his latest project, Fearsome Fables II, an anthology of comics with cover art from Schuster nominee Sanya Anwar. Proceeds from the book will go to Free the Children, a non-profit charity focused on empowering youth. Chiykowski got his start in comics as an English major at Dalhousie. His webcomic series Rock, Paper, Cynic appeared in 2008. "Hal-Con was my first convention ever," he says. "I was not prepared for the excitement from fans to talk to artists. I was surprised how many people read my comics. It was a great feeling."

Thousands will come to Hal-Con to meet their heroes and have fun. Chiykowski hopes to meet a few different writers and artists at the event. "Most conventions are really super small or super huge were it's all about corporations," says Chiykowski. "Hal-Con has a good mix of local and big names. It's a beautiful atmosphere."

November 8-10
World Trade & Convention Centre, 1800 Argyle Street


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